Microsoft Visio 2013 – Connection points


Microsoft Visio 2013 – Connection points

Microsoft Visio 2013 is the newest version of the Microsoft Visio line from Microsoft. I’m a Microsoft Visio junkie and thought that I knew it all. This blog is about adding lines in a Microsoft Visio drawing and an issue I ran accross when editing an old drawing. Hopefully one of you, reading my blog, will tell me I’m wrong and show me how to do it simple.

Connection lines

Let’s start simple, I have a default Microsoft Visio drawing with two blocks where I want to add a line between those blocks.
A more simple drawing that this is not possible. As you see the lines are connection to the center connection point. No problem at this point for it’s the first line.
The second line I try to add, I’ll try to add just below the first one on both blocks where I put the red lines. creating a new line that connects to the block on exactly those points in not possible by default. The line simply jumps to the center connection point no matter how hard you try.

Connection point

Is is possible to connect a line to any other point than the Center connection point?
Yes it is, but it requires a few more mouse clicks before you can do so.
In the menu bar of Microsoft Visio next to the Connector menu option, you’ll find a “X” which actually is a connection point. After you created a line that, connected it to the center connection point you hav to click this option to move it to another position.
So how does this work?
Look back at the picture above, the lines are in that position. I click on the second line and then select the Connection point option from the menu. The selected second line is changed, a gray rectangle is place around it allowing you to move the ends of the line.

In the picture below you can see that I moved the lines to the position I originally wanted to.

As you can see the lines are now as intended, so the procedure works. You can connect lines to any point 

Real world

The real reason I was looking for this was the fact that I’m still working on a VMware View troubleshooting drawing orginally intended for a troubleshooting session at VMworld. The option is workable but when adding new lines it’s not handy that you have to go through two steps, first just let Visio drop it in the center and then via the menu option move it to it’s position.
When trying to edit lines it gets complicated… you jsut can’t see what you are editing.. not like you used to see at least. The gray rectangle is around the arrow connector line that I want to move but for me it’s not clear with line it is… of course I know for I clicked on it… but be honest, this is not a fancy solution.
I just don’t like this new feature and miss the way we used to do it..

Conclusion

The change from Visio 2010 to 2013 in the way lines are connecting by default is a change for the worse in my honest opinion. I always loved the way you could just drop a line anywhere without any secondary action. The fact it has changed is something to keep in mind, perhaps someone knows a better way to do this or a simpeler one. I would be glad to hear if this behavior can be altered.

3 Responses

  1. Rob,

    I had not noticed the change in behavior that you’re describing, largely because I don’t think I’ve ever created multiple lines between boxes in quite the way you are. However, your observations are correct – the behavior in Visio 2013 is different: each additional line glues to the center connection point.

    [NOTE: because I can't post images here, the images referred to in subsequent paragraphs are available here: http://www.visio2010stepbystep.com/Downloads/Temp/Visio_2010_2013_images.zip%5D

    One question about the behavior in Visio 2010 and then a suggestion. When I attach multiple lines to a shape in Visio 2010 using the technique you describe, they do appear as you suggest (refer to 2010-1.PNG). However, they are not actually glued to the shape, they are merely touching it. For example, moving the upper shape to the left results in 2010-2.PNG.

    I think a better technique is to add connection points to each shape before you draw the lines: click the Connection Point tool, click once on the target shape to select it, and then Ctrl+click to add connection points. (Tip 1: you can take advantage of snap to grid to ensure that the connection points are evenly spaced. Tip 2: be sure to select the target shape before you add connection points or you may end up adding them to the page rather than to the shape.)

    I used this technique in 2013-1.PNG and then drew lines to create 2013-2.PNG. The advantage of this approach is that you know exactly where each line is glued and the lines will remain connected as you rearrange shapes in your diagram.

    Regards,
    Scott

  2. Anonymous says:

    The reason for the change is that before, if the shape is connected to an edge, moving the box may end up no longer being on the side nearest the next shape. With the connection point in the center, it always uses the nearest side. For simple connections, this is great, but as you point out, it causes problems for more complex connections.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you completely! Whenever I am working on a large network diagram I need finite control over the placement of all the lines because I might have 20+ lines going to a single object. This new way is terribly frustrating and time consuming!

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